White Coat Black Art

Town Hall: Politics & Prescriptions

Should Canada Have a National Drug Plan?

​This Saturday and Sunday, White Coat Black Art features highlights of this past week's town hall, Politics & Prescriptions.

Then on Monday October 5 at 9:00 pm, tune into CBC Radio One for a special one-hour program, White Coat, Black Art presents "Politics & Prescriptions: Should Canada Have a National Drug Plan?"  Or you can stream it here:

Should Canada have a national drug care plan?

The panel is moderated by Dr. Brian Goldman, and includes some of Canada's leading experts: 

Dr. Danielle Martin, a family doctor and a VP at Women's College Hospital, founder of Canadian Doctors for Medicare  and co-author of Pharmacare 2020: The Future of Drug Coverage in Canada

Helen Stevenson, President & CEO of Reformulary Group Inc.  former Ontario Assistant Deputy Minister of Health and Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs;

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Family Physician Emeritus, and an active writer/blogger  who focuses on health care and its ongoing transformation.

We hear from patients -- including:

Chantel Wicks is a teacher who has difficulty affording and accessing the medications she needs to treat her fibromyalgia, Crohn's and colitis. 

Chantal Wicks Clip

Oliver Sachgau takes a drug called Enbrel to treat his arthritis symptoms. The price tag?  Eighteen humdred dollars a month.

Shane Patey lives with HIV. He's the Executive Director of the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC).

Brian also talks to a pharmacist who digs into his own pocket to pay for his customers' medication and a representative of the insurance industry who is frustrated by the continuing escalation of drug prices.

The four main political parties weigh in -- do they think now is the right time to demand more of our universal health care system, or do they think there are other options? 

A recent study shows that the number of Canadians missing prescriptions because of costs is one in five, nearly double the previous estimates. It's not hard to see why. There's a growing list of miracle prescription drugs that are far beyond the price range of nearly all Canadians. For example, drugs that stop the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can cost tens of thousands a month. 

According to a recent Angus Reid Poll, 91 per cent of Canadians favour a national pharmacare plan.  Countries around the world - including Sweden and New Zealand, have successful national pharmacare programs.  In fact, Canada is the only G7 nation with publicly-funded health care that does not have pharmacare.

Still, there are critics who say we should pay attention to what happened in Quebec, where the provincial drug benefit plan is straining to keep going financially.  They also say that Canada is likely to be a flop at negotiating cheaper drug prices - an essential step to making pharmacare work in this country. 


Dr. Brian Goldman


Karin Chykaliuk

Dawna Dingwall

Jeff Goodes

Erin Pettit

Audience Producers

Richard Dowsett

Lara Hindle

Sarah-Taïssir Bencharif

Glenn Gould Studio

Anita Adams

Greg De Clute

Leonard Fisher

Shannon Jaffer

John Maclean

Rose Moorehouse

Dennis Patterson


Joanne Dine

Carla Palmer

New Media

Paul Gorbould

Sinisa Jolic